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Fundamental focus remains imperative – Winnipeg Free Press

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The Free Press has made this story available free of charge so everyone can access trusted information on the coronavirus.

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This year has brought a variety of challenges to Manitobans. The pandemic has placed many hardships on individuals, families, communities and businesses. This past spring, Manitobans stepped up to the challenge of COVID-19 and flattened the curve, but as we are now seeing an increase in active cases, we are all reminded that this virus is not done with us. We need to remain vigilant to ensure our case numbers remain manageable.

This fall, as we prepare for an increase in influenza and other respiratory viruses, alongside COVID-19, we know our lives will look much different. In order to reduce the impact of respiratory viruses, including influenza and COVID-19, we will need all Manitobans to continue following our fundamental approaches by doing things such as staying home when ill, practising frequent hand hygiene, coughing into elbows, practising physical distancing and wearing masks in indoor public places. In addition, all Manitobans should ensure they are up to date on all the vaccines they are eligible for, and that includes getting the flu shot this fall.

Immunization against the flu has been shown to reduce the number of physician visits, hospitalizations and deaths, particularly among those who are at increased risk of serious illness from the flu. Immunization is the best way to protect you, your children, and those around you at risk of serious or even fatal effects of the flu. The flu vaccine does not protect against other viral or bacterial infections, including illnesses like the common cold, stomach flus, or other respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19. However, getting the flu vaccine could reduce the number of people getting sick and requiring medical treatment in hospital, which could put extra pressure on the health care system in the fall and winter months.

Vital in our response to respiratory virus season will be that Manitobans stay home when they are ill. For many individuals, families and employers this represents a dramatic change. Many of us have tried to persevere through a respiratory illness at work or have sent our children to school while ill. This practice cannot take place in our “new normal.” Individuals, families and employers should work together and begin planning now for increases in absenteeism.

For individuals and families these plans should consider how they or a member of their family could self-isolate for up to fourteen days should they be identified as a contact of someone who has COVID-19 or become ill themselves. Consider plans for the care of children required to stay home from school if they get sick.

Employers will want to reduce the risk of clusters of respiratory illness in the workplace by reducing crowding and encouraging employees to stay home from work when ill. This may mean removing the need for sick notes, loosening of sick leave policies or adding options for working remotely.

Living with the risk of COVID-19 is a change in mindset for all of us. We all take risks in our lives each and every day, the key is to take precautions to minimize those risks. In addition to practicing the fundamentals of staying home when ill, hand hygiene and physical distancing, wearing a non-medical mask in indoor public places is strongly recommended. Wearing a mask does not replace physical distancing, but is an additional step Manitobans can take to protect each other.

Wearing a reusable non-medical mask does not protect the person wearing the mask, but may help protect the people around them. In situations where maintaining consistent physical distancing is challenging, such as on public transit, in crowded stores or other public settings, the use of masks is another tool that may help to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others.

Now is the time for Manitobans to again step up to the challenge and make a consistent effort to practise the fundamentals — hand hygiene, physical distancing and vaccinations. Perhaps the largest change for many of us will be the need to stay home when we are sick. For this change, in particular, we all need to begin planning now for the inevitable respiratory virus season that is approaching. The steps we take individually and collectively going forward will determine our success in managing COVID-19.

Manitobans stepped up to the challenge of COVID-19 and we will continue to do so as we learn to live in our new normal. We truly are in this together.

Dr. Brent Roussin is Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer.

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Daily new COVID-19 cases triple in past month; more schools hit – Kamloops This Week

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TORONTO — A dramatic tripling of daily new cases of COVID-19 in the past month, mostly among young people, has prompted the prime minister to declare the arrival of the second wave of the pandemic and that Canadians likely won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving.

“In our four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway,” Justin Trudeau said Wednesday evening in a rare television address to the nation.

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“We’re on the brink of a fall that could be much worse than the spring.”

Trudeau said Canadians can’t do anything to change the numbers now, or even tomorrow.

“But what we can change is where we are in October, and into the winter,” he said.

“It’s all too likely we won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving, but we still have a shot at Christmas.”

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the country had seen an average of more than 1,100 new cases of the novel coronavirus a day this past week compared with about 380 a day in mid-August.

“Canada is at a crossroads with the COVID-19 epidemic trajectory,” Tam said before Trudeau’s address. “Unless public health and individual protective measures are strengthened and we work together to slow the spread of the virus, the situation is on track for a big resurgence in a number of provinces.”

While the new cases were primarily among young adults, more than 400 schools in Quebec and another 153 in Ontario reported at least one case of the illness. The figures from the group COVID Ecoles Quebec and the Ontario government came as authorities seek ways to curb the spread of COVID-19 among younger people.

Data from Ontario show cases among those in their 20s have risen sharply in the past month, with one expert attributing the increase in part to the reopening of schools and universities.

In an effort to tackle the problem, several provinces, cities and universities have warned of stiff fines for violating anti-COVID restrictions. However, Quebec said it would not allow police to enter homes without a warrant to break up gatherings that violate the measures.

The worrisome upward trend in new cases came as the federal Liberal government laid out its plan to take on the second wave.

“To prevent small clusters from becoming major outbreaks, communities may need to enact short-term closure orders,” the government said in its throne speech.

Stringent lockdowns in the spring caused unprecedented economic disruption, prompting the government to spend tens of billions of dollars on supports as unemployment skyrocketed.

The throne speech promised, among other things, an extension of the federal wage-subsidy program until next summer, more aid for businesses and help to boost testing capacity. People in various cities have waited for hours or even days for virus testing. Safety concerns led a hospital in Kitchener, Ont., to close its drive-thru testing centre as people arrived in the wee hours.

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada, while the cumulative case count has been edging toward the 150,000 mark.

Quebec, with more than 69,000 cases, accounts for about 48 per cent of the total cases but 63 per cent of the deaths. Ontario’s more than 48,000 reported cases account for 33 per cent nationally, and 31 per cent of fatalities

On Wednesday, Quebec reported 471 new cases. Another four reported deaths from the novel coronavirus brought the province’s total fatalities to 5,809.

Ontario, which has shown a steady increase in new cases since mid-August, after months of declines, reported 335 new cases Wednesday and another three deaths. Almost 70 per cent of new infections were in people under the age of 40.

Concern is also mounting as more long-term care homes in Ontario, brutally hit by the virus earlier in the year, report outbreaks. Almost 70 per cent of fatalities have been among those aged 80 and older and another 27 per cent were 60 to 79 years of age.

While older people and those with underlying health conditions are more susceptible to severe illnesses from SARS-CoV-2, younger people can spread the disease — often before showing any symptoms.

“When there’s so much in the community, it can escalate into the populations with more vulnerability,” Dr. Vera Etches, medical officer of health in Ottawa, one of the harder hit cities, said.

Ontario data indicates new cases among people in their 20s have reached similar levels to those seen among people in their 80s in mid-April. Along with school reopenings, Dr. Brian Ward, a professor of medicine at McGill University, cited bars and parties as key factors, along with a “general sense of invulnerability” among younger people.

“COVID fatigue also clearly plays a role,” Ward said.

Winnipeg, for example, accounted for 30 of Manitoba’s 42 new cases reported Wednesday, with possible exposures at restaurants, bars and a pub trivia night, the province said.

Trudeau sympathized with Canadians feeling the stress of a second wave, but urged people to be strong.

“‘Can’t’ will not define us,” he said.

“We can bend the curve. We can build a stronger future. We can define the change.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2020.

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Saskatchewan health officials fine person $2000 for not self-isolating while symptomatic – WellandTribune.ca

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REGINA—Saskatchewan health officials have fined a person $2,000 for not self-isolating while showing symptoms of COVID-19, bringing the total amount of penalties levied in the province to more than $20,000.

The Ministry of Health has not released specific details about the recent case, except to say the penalty was imposed after a contact tracing investigation.

“Public health is confident that all close contacts have been determined and contacted in this case,” reads a statement from the Ministry of Health.

Public health rules state people must isolate for 14 days if they return from international travel, are diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been close to someone who is positive.

Officials said the recent violation was of a section of the provincial public health order that states all symptomatic people who have been directed to get a COVID-19 test, or are awaiting their results, must isolate until they are no longer deemed a risk.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said asymptomatic people being tested are only required to self-monitor.

“As there is no further public risk, we will not be releasing additional information about this enforcement,” said the statement.

A spokesperson said officials have issued four fines related to violations around COVID-19 precautions, including the one announced Thursday.

Recently, an organizer of a private gathering at a home in Saskatoon, where about 47 people attended, was fined $2,000. Another $2,000 fine was handed to a person who didn’t self-isolate, despite being positive for COVID-19.

A $10,000 penalty was given to a business that was open when restrictions were in place.

“Fines are not our first choice; we want people to be responsible and protect their health and the health of the friends, family and community,” Colleen Book said in an email.

“There can be very serious consequences for not following Public Health Orders and we are seeing increasing transmission rates in Saskatchewan and across the country as a result of social gatherings (weddings, parties etc.). This is putting our schools, businesses and health facilities at risk.”

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Saskatchewan reported five new infections on Thursday. Officials said of the more than 1,800 cases reported to date in the province, 130 are believed to be active.

There are 24 active infections of children since schools reopened earlier this month.

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Saskatchewan officials fine person $2000 for not self-isolating while symptomatic – The Observer

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REGINA — Saskatchewan health officials have fined a person $2,000 for not self-isolating while showing symptoms of COVID-19, bringing the total amount of penalties levied in the province to more than $20,000.

The Ministry of Health has not released specific details about the recent case, except to say the penalty was imposed after a contact tracing investigation.

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“Public health is confident that all close contacts have been determined and contacted in this case,” reads a statement from the Ministry of Health.

Public health rules state people must isolate for 14 days if they return from international travel, are diagnosed with COVID-19 or have been close to someone who is positive.

Officials said the recent violation was of a section of the provincial public health order that states all symptomatic people who have been directed to get a COVID-19 test, or are awaiting their results, must isolate until they are no longer deemed a risk.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority said asymptomatic people being tested are only required to self-monitor.

“As there is no further public risk, we will not be releasing additional information about this enforcement,” said the statement.

A spokeswoman said officials have issued four fines related to violations around COVID-19 precautions, including the one announced Thursday.

Recently, an organizer of a private gathering at a home in Saskatoon, where about 47 people attended, was fined $2,000. Another $2,000 fine was handed to a person who didn’t self-isolate, despite being positive for COVID-19.

A $10,000 penalty was given to a business that was open when restrictions were in place.

“Fines are not our first choice; we want people to be responsible and protect their health and the health of the friends, family and community,” Colleen Book said in an email.

“There can be very serious consequences for not following Public Health Orders and we are seeing increasing transmission rates in Saskatchewan and across the country as a result of social gatherings (weddings, parties etc.). This is putting our schools, businesses and health facilities at risk.”

Saskatchewan reported five new infections on Thursday. Officials said of the more than 1,800 cases reported to date in the province, 130 are believed to be active.

There are 24 active infections of children since schools reopened earlier this month.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2020

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